An indie-rap institution, Minneapolis' Atmosphere — which, at its core, is basically rapper Slug and producer Ant — sidestepped its scene's "lyrical/miracle" battle-rap limitations and collegiate polemic pretensions by presenting grounded, everyday stories over accessible, soulful beats. But what made the group stand out more than anything was that Slug emerged as perhaps the most empathetic MC in the history of what is normally a declamatory, first-person form. Atmosphere has written brilliant, unexpected songs about a toddler girl riding around the 'hood in the backseat of her daddy's car, about a rural Minnesota suicide, about a comically inept one-night stand, even — and it feels weird and unlikely to type it, but listening is believing — a respectful, disorienting, meditative song about a woman masturbating. One of the group's finest moments ("Like Today") simply recounts an average summer day walking around Slug's neighborhood. On recent albums such as 2008's When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold and last year's The Family Sign, Ant's low-key beats have been bolstered by more live instrumentation, while Slug's raps have moved toward an acceptance of fortysomething maturity — indie-rap as grown-folks' music. Atmosphere plays the New Daisy on Wednesday,
July 11th, with Blueprint (a terrific MC from Ohio), I Self Devine, and DJ Rare Groove. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $19.